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Cosmetic products do not cause diabetes

16 July 2012

You may have read reports in the media about a possible link between diabetes and levels of certain phthalates in women, and be alarmed by these stories.

Reporting on a study in America, some of the news articles have suggested nail polish and other cosmetics might be the source of phthalates measured in diabetic women. The researchers themselves caution that their work is at an early stage and the lead researcher, Dr James-Todd, said: “We know that in addition to being present in personal care products, phthalates also exist in certain types of medical devices and medication that is used to treat diabetes and this could also explain the higher level of phthalates in diabetic women. So overall, more research is needed.”

Cosmetic and personal care products are safe. There are stringent EU rules surrounding the manufacture of cosmetic products, and these require manufacturers to carry out a rigorous safety assessment by a professionally qualified safety assessor before placing a cosmetic product on the market. The assessment takes into account the finished product, all of the ingredients and how and where the product is to be used.

In fact, of the particular phthalates mentioned in the study and the reports (mono-benzyl phthalate, mono-isobutyl phthalate, mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate is banned from use in cosmetic products in Europe and we are not aware that any of the others are used in cosmetic products.

It is important to stress that no direct links have been found between diabetes and the use of phthalates in personal care products; something that the authors of the study acknowledge. The cosmetics industry takes its responsibility to consumers very seriously and looks at new scientific studies or reports to see what implications, if any, there are for cosmetic products. In all cases, it is very important to put the science into context.

Read more on:


Read the advice from NHS Choices

Read the response by the US Personal Care Products Council